my beating heart

by Kayla Raymond

Today, I find myself on a balcony overlooking the ocean. A sandy beach lies before me with extra large beanbag chairs to sink your body in. An ice cold coca cola sits to my right and I’m just mesmerized that this is my life.

Years have passed now since this crazy journey began. I think of specific moments that led me to this specific place in time and I just see God smirking above saying, “I bet you didn’t see this coming, did you?”

Last week at this time I was getting ready to walk down the aisle and marry my best friend. Three and a half years ago a man walked onto my porch asking if he could help paint and we all joke that he never went home since, but my beating heart is so thankful he never left my side.

From the first day of our friendship, we found ourselves on an adventure. Before even becoming official “boyfriend and girlfriend” we rescued a dying three-year-old from a hellhole of an orphanage. Today we know him as our Jeffte. Since then, we have watched God explode our mountaintop into a place for over 800 students to be educated. It is a home to fifty chickens, lots of goats, and one ugly sheep. Over fifty people find employment at this place. We have taken in two other miracle children, who bring abundant joy to our lives every second of the day. And you have read some of the other ways God is at work, right here on this blog: the blessing of ViBella, Tytoo Gardens, sponsorships and real relationships.

You’re right God, I didn’t see any of this coming my way.

As I reflect on this balcony porch, my heart begins to skip a beat. I am truly so blessed. I think that this world is full of so many people who are looking for what they’re called to do and somehow, literally by the grace of God, I stumbled upon a life that is so full of calling and service. I have somehow found something to live for.

I paint this beautiful picture of blessing, but I will actually be the first to get pessimistic about the way the world looks. People complaining about not having a warm shower just tick me off these days. You’ve read the statistics, millions of people will spend their energy fetching water just to survive and we are going to complain about not having some “lukewarm water,” really? Maybe that sounds rude of me to actually put into writing, but you will agree with me, won’t you. We’ve got it pretty good if our biggest complaint is a cold shower.

Besides the children at the orphanage in Simonette, I live in the only other house in my village that has running water. My neighbors don’t have refrigerators or flushing toilets. At nighttime, our village is dark because we don’t have electricity 24 hours of the day. There is one road in our village, no streetlights or stop signs. I even know people who will sleep on dirt floors, drink contaminated water and never visit a dentist because they have no other options.

It makes my heart beat quickly. Makes me almost angry that people, people who I love, live like this. And some days it feels like this is the only place in the world where poverty strikes the innocent, but I only witness a speck of it. Books and statistics will tell you that we, North Americans, are actually in the minority. The poor are the majority. The majority of the world lives this way; I’m not discovering something new here.

But, my neighbors teach me the most. When I’m sick, they bring me soup to drink. When we play, they teach me new songs and the “real” rules of soccer. They invite me into their homes, always making a chair for me to sit on. They tell me of their struggles and my heart breaks over and over for them. They show me how to worship, when they have nothing left to give.

It is a picture full of so many oxymoron’s and contradicting feelings. It is hard to find contentment at the end of the day. The struggle is real, but my heart keeps beating and I know someday we will rejoice together.

And isn’t it funny, the moments when I feel most alive are when I’m sitting in a house made of tarp with a dirt floor and a mother tells me how she has found hope. I wonder on paths made of dirt wondering where the next miracle will come from. I belly laugh with orphans, hold new born babies under mosquito nets, and dream of riding a donkey to market someday. The dirtiest and poorest places make my heart beat with joy and gladness.

Last week, I started a new chapter in my life when Webert and I became husband and wife. A friend told me, “I can’t wait to see what else God is going to do in your lives.” I’m afraid of what He is going to do, honestly. Look at how much He has already done. I am afraid of the challenges He will put in front of me. I say that, but I also can’t wait to see what the future and the year of 2014 has in store.

I can’t wait to see how my heart will break, beat and jump for joy. I can’t wait to laugh at my mistakes, dance ridiculously with my kids, watch God work wonders right under my nose and see where this whirlwind called life will take me.

I hope 2014 is the year that you find a heart so alive you can feel it jump with joy in the good times and break in the bad times. I hope you find what the Lord is calling you to do and find ultimate joy in the journey getting there.

{thank you all for following my journey thus far – all of your kind words, donations and support allows me to keep pushing forward}